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February 11, 2012 / MrsH

No-More-Nursing Cake

I wrote this last weekend and might one day share it with Sweetpea.  While I didn’t exactly feel sad about weaning her, it did feel significant and important.  I wanted to mark the end somehow, to have a weaning ceremony or nursing celebration, or something.  We did had cake and it was lovely.  She hasn’t nursed in almost a week now and soon, there will be no more milk.  I’m finally feeling the sadness in that.  Not Sweetpea though.  She hasn’t asked to nurse even once, in spite of being hit with a cold and double ear infection.  But she’s a tough cookie, and she was ready.

Dear Sweetpea,

The last time we nursed, was today, Sunday morning. You’d woken up before me, as always, and eagerly walked into my room announcing: “Sun up! Time to nurse now!” At my prodding you sweetly asked more politely: “peaz me nurse now? Peaz you nurse me?” You were adorable and of course I obliged. The night before we had discussed, again, that this would be our last time. I gently reminded you of this and you just nodded, eager to get to the business at hand. For our last time, I’d pictured it would be leisurely and last forever, but that was not the case. “Switch!” Came the request pretty quickly. Even quicker: “all done! Me go see Buddy now”  After church that day, we stopped at the bakery to choose your No-More-Nursing Cake. To my surprise, you chose a carrot cake. “This my nursing cake,” you proudly explained to the girl boxing it up. And to the nice man behind us. And the two single 20-something guys behind him. Finally you got to the older lady in the back: “this my nursing cake!” At home, you gobbled up your slice and went upstairs for rest hour, while I sat on my bed and quietly despaired at the prospect of no more naps. But then you came in and got under the covers in bed next to me. “Me take nap now. Not nurse, just a nap. Goodnight mommy.” We snuggled close, me being sure to keep my “nursies” covered, thinking you’d still want them;  you didn’t. You closed your eyes and drifted off to sleep. I laid with you a long time that day.

I chose to nurse you long before you were born. Breastmilk is the absolute best nourishment for babies and with all of my back-to-nature tendencies, it was the only thing that made sense to me.  I’m so thankful that it was possible for us to do so.  I had heard many women exclaim how much they loved nursing their babies.  The early days of nursing you were not easy.  I felt pretty uncomfortable, and getting a good latch was really difficult.  I didn’t know this at the time, but we also had thrush which caused it to hurt badly.  But, as with everything else, practice makes perfect.  And we practiced a LOT!  You nursed like a champ, 10-14 times a day, sometimes more! I came to love our nursing sessions: snuggled on the couch or in bed, the lawn of the White House (oh yes!), or in the sling or a comfy seat at a coffeeshop, you latched on and drank that milk. We both became still, and looked at each other, and our love grew. It felt right, even as you got older and people started telling me you were getting too old for this.

As an infant, you would nurse and then look at me with milk all over your face and the biggest smile. “Milk” was your first sign, and I was glad to oblige. Before your naps, we laid on my bed and nursed until you drifted off to sleep, peacefully.  I often stayed just to stare at you, marveling at your features and how quickly you were growing, learning, and changing. Even yesterday, you ran into our room in the morning excitedly declaring “sun up! Sun up! Me nurse now! You nurse me now!” You’ve always been eager to nurse together.

As much as I’ve loved our nursing relationship, over the past few months, I have felt some resentment as well. Sometimes you came in to nurse and I did not want to. I felt sad and confused by that, because I’ve loved it so much. I’ve prayed and journaled about it, and finally came to realize that after 2 years and 9 months of nursing, it might be time to change our relationship to not include it anymore. You have become so big, strong, and sure of yourself. You readily accept other forms of comfort and reassurance, and you’re simply the best snuggler. You’ve also begun to say “no” when I’ve offered to nurse you down for a nap. Many mornings you forget to come into my room for a nurse because you’re so excited about starting the rest of your day. All these things told me that you will be ok, we will be ok, even without nursing together.

So on Friday I told you: “let’s make this our last time nursing.” Your eyes got wide and you adamantly said “NO.” Just as I’d expected. However, I was surprised by your response after I asked you how many more days you wanted to nurse: “two.” Your answer was short, simple, and with mixed feelings I agreed to two days. So here we are, my dearest Sweetpea, today we started a new chapter of our lives together. May you continue to grow and blossom in the ways God intended. And may these early bonding moments be forever etched in your heart as you grow into the young woman you were created to be.

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